Dublin: Messing Around in the City of Your Choice

This is post #4 of our Dublin-Berlin trip, Friday, September 14, 2018.

The title comes from a moment late in the day, when exhausted, weary, and tired of sight-seeing, we decide to bust loose from our agenda and just do what we want, see what we want.  It’s often this push-and-pull for me: See All The Sights! often dominates, whereas Enjoy Your Travels and Discover, often takes a back seat. So we think there should be a guidebook with this title, as often that’s when you have the most fun, even though you may “miss” some of the “important” things in a city’s checklist.  Today we tried to balance out the both.

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Gallagher’s Boxty House

Because of pathetic night’s sleep, we didn’t get moving until nearly lunchtime.  We’d made reservations at Boxty’s for lunch on Saturday, but decided to see if they could accommodate us for lunch today, Friday, then we’d “get that out of the way.”Dublin Boxty Menu

They could, and we started our day with a small bowl of Traditional Irish Lamb Stew and Soda Bread, and a Corned Beef Boxty.Boxty Lunch3Boxty Lunch2

What is a boxty?  A pancake, for all practical purposes.

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We headed out the usual way, trying to get to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but detoured onto a little curved street, where we saw City Hall, and decided to check it out.Dublin City Hall1_Dome
Dave always goes for the dome in the ceiling.Dublin City Hall2_floor
I always go for the tiled floors.  There’s some sort of message in this, but I can’t think what it is.Dublin St. Patricks_1

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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I loved this little scene, right behind the ticket-taker at the door.  We get a “concession” or discount on the ticket price because we are of a Certain Age.  Getting a discount always makes Dave happy.

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Another big vaulting nave, and although there is nothing “special” about this Cathedral, it does have some interesting features.

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See these regimental flags?

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When old military regiments are disbanded, their flags are sent to this cathedral to hang until they disintegrate and fall to the ground.  Then the flag remains are placed in a display case and hung on the wall.  The St. Patrick Cathedral website notes that “Saint Patrick’s Cathedral began receiving regimental colours in the 1850s and these represented Regiments who had fought in the Napoleonic wars. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries more flags were laid up (added) in the Cathedral and this tradition continues today.”

The decaying flags are hung in a side chapel.  The ones you see here, along with their helmets and swords, are those of the Knights of St Patrick. Click the link to read more about them and their connection to this cathedral.

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These tiles are from a renovation by the wealthy brewer “Benjamin Lee Guinness [who]  wrote offering to underwrite a complete restoration of the building, the only condition being that he be subject to no interference: the project took five years and cost £150,000. One of the alterations made by Guinness was raising the floor of the nave to the same height as that of the choir. In the process, new tiles were laid down, of which these are an example, based on medieval designs and covering the entire nave.”  from here

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Needlepoint cushions for the seats.  My eye was caught by the Wexford design.  We saw similar ones in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., but they were stitched honoring notable people from the area.

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Jonathan Swift is buried here, along with his companion, Stella.

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Side door, St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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The fact that Swift is buried here helps these medallions on these neighboring housing units make more sense.  On the unit above, you can see the main character of Swift’s novel, Lemuel Gulliver, tied down by the Lilliputians.  There were several housing units in this development and several medallions depicting scenes from the novel, such as when Gulliver was instrumental in a sea battle.

Two more businesses with one-word titles: Feast and Pure. Pure is a styling salon for women.

Dublin The Rolling Donut

We were headed to St. Stephen’s Green and Butler’s Chocolate, but encountered this donut shop, which by now was my favorite of all the shops I saw.

Perfect afternoon pick-me-up, complete with “red velvet soil.”  Verrrry glad there is nothing like this in the States. But our original errand was to head to Butler’s to try their White Hot Chocolate, and that was just across the pedestrian shopping street, along with another busker/musician:

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Holding the white hot chocolate at the Fusilier’s Arch, St. Stephen’s Green.  We found a bench, and sat, taking turns sipping the beverage.

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It reminded Dave of warm, sweet milk, with a slight undertone of chocolate.  Agree.

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This young girl was mobbed by the gulls, as she held a crust of bread.  Then all of a sudden they flew off over our heads in a great cawing and rush of wings.

One of the interesting things about travel is how one experience overlaps another.  Sitting on the bench in the green reminded us of the day we were in Halifax, Canada, waiting for the restaurant to open where we were to eat.  We had an hour to kill, so headed to a park, talking and taking a breath in the travel rush.

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Leaving the Green, and walking north along Merrion Square Upper lane, Dave caught this shot of a massive set of something governmental looking.  A commenter on Google Maps said that “This complex of Government Buildings situated on Upper Merrion Street, Dublin is where the government ministers and staff have their offices. It originally housed two government departments, the Local Government Board and the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction.”  Apparently you can take tours of it.  Next trip.

We were headed to Merrion Square because I’d heard there were great doors to look at there, but we had fun goofing around in the park, finding this chair which was a tribute to  Dermot Morgan.  I said to Dave that he can put one like this in the local university botannic garden for me, and I’d be happy.

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How about this for a Christmas Card photo, sneakers and all?

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When we were on the airplane on Aer Lingus, the flight attendants would come down the aisle at the end of service asking for “Rubbish?”  or “Waste?” where we usually hear “Trash?” on American flights.  Here’s a litter box, all fancy-style, in the park.  I think we usually still use the one word, “trash.”  Interesting that there are three words in their vernacular to our one.

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Even though there was no rain expected/predicted, it’s raining now, so we scurry over to the National Library of Dublin, because I’d seen photos of the Reading Room (below) and I wanted to see it.  Of course, photos weren’t allowed (privacy for those in the Reading Room) and no postcards, either, so I took this one from the web.  I think I want to repaint my house in these colors.

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We walk back to our hotel, dodging under doorways. The rain let up a bit.

Dublin Bus

We never could figure out the bus system in Dublin, thinking instead they keep it away from the tourists, so only the locals can use it.  I do like how the last guy on the bike, in the green, is looking at the portrait.

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They think we’re weird because we are drinking ginger ale instead of beer.

Dave wanted to eat dinner where he could listen to some traditional Irish music.  O’Flaherty’s had three levels, and the guy receiving patrons politely guided us downstairs (where the old folks and the kids were dining), but we did have a good view of the stage with the two-piece band, and the dancer, when she’d come downstairs to do a bit of Irish dancing.  I also had the biggest piece of Fish n’ Chips I’d ever seen (Dave had to help).  He had Irish stew.

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A last walk up onto O’Connell Bridge to see the lights.

Doors from Merrion Square, Dublin

This is post #3 of our Dublin-Berlin trip in September 2018,
a happy-go-lucky Friday afternoon, September 14.

Click on any image to enlarge.

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Merrion Square, in Dublin Ireland is surrounded by stately homes.

Yeats Lived Here.jpgAnd Yeats lived here for a while.

I do love these lines from Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming,”
which I can almost make sense of.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

Book of Kells, Christ Church and more meandering

This is post #2 of our Dublin-Berlin trip in September 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2019

Dave had sourced out lots of places to eat in Dublin before coming.  So that first morning we walked along Fleet Street to find breakfast at the Queen of Tarts.  Along the way, we photographed the famous Temple Bar.  I guess if you are a drinker, you would like to come here, but since we aren’t drinkers, I thought it was just a lovely place with all the flowers.

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Scone, juice and a streusel muffin

Then on to visit Christ Church.  They are renovating an area outside the church and I loved all the bold design fences.

Interesting comment on Christ as a homeless person.

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Coming inside, I know understood why the fences outside had such bold designs: they were taken from the floor’s tile designs.

Back outside, we kept checking the sky, wondering if we were going to be rained on, but the clouds cleared and we kept going.

The cathedral is on the right, Synod House is on the left, joined by a bridge.

We walked all the way down from Christ Church to St. Patrick’s and realized we’d left the tickets for the Book of Kells back in the room, so we re-traced our steps back along Fleet Street, back to our hotel.

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The other side of Temple Bar, plus another notable pub, below.  Lively Irish music was always pouring out of this yellow pub from early afternoon into the night.

Back at the room, I held my camera below the open window to get this shot of the The Spire of Dublin (aka Millenium Spire).

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This is typical of how our screenshots from Google Maps Offline looked like: we’d chart our course while in wifi, then head out, tracking ourselves as we went.  Seriously, offline maps are like magic.  We couldn’t make sense of the public transit, and unlike other cities, it seemed to be reserved only for the locals.  So we walked everywhere, and kept our destinations local.

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Entering Trinity College, you feel history waft over you, as everything has so many years behind it.  It’s either that, or you feel like you’re channeling Harry Potter, or something.

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I’d watched The Secret of Kells twice before coming, forcing Dave to join me once (he fell asleep), but I was glad I’d done that for it helped me to make sense of the chaos that the Book of Kells exhibit felt like.

img_6471It felt like we were all moooooved into one room like cattle (and they’d run out of English pamphlets, with the girl telling me — not so helpfully, but in a lovely Irish lilt — “everything’s printed on the displays”).  There were large displays with pictures of The Book, but it was hard to see/read with all the people.  We stepped up into another room with a crush around one low table.  It displayed several manuscripts, one of them the Book of Kells.  They display a random page, so you never know what you’ll see, but I was hoping to see the Chi-Ro page:

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“Chi and Rho are two letters of the Greek alphabet, the first two letters of “Christ”. Chi gives a hard Ch sound. Rho is an R. Chi is written as an X. Rho is roughly a P. In this illumination the Chi is the dominant form, an X with uneven arms, somewhat resembling a pair of curvaceous pliers. The Rho stands in its shelter, with its loop turned into a spiral. There is also an Iota, an I, the third letter, passing up through this spiral. All three letters are abundantly decorated, their curves drawn out into flourishes, embellished with discs and spirals, filled with dense tracery and punctuated with occasional animals and angels.”  (from here)

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After that insanity, we climbed the stairs to head into the Long Room of the Old Library, along with the rest of the herd.  Shades of Wizarding!  There were two rows of alcoves along the main center aisle, and on top of that, another series of alcoves.  This room, built between 1712 and 1732, was expanded to two stories in 1860.

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The ties of twill around the books are like bandages for the books, as they need to be repaired.img_6462img_6451img_6468img_6463

At the front of each “stall” (their word) or shelf of books was a bust of a famous person, 100% male, with the exception of one stack, which displayed this harp, above, which apparently is the model for All Things Harpish, and is one of the three oldest surviving Gaelic harps (c. 15th century).  But the statues everywhere (and not just in the library) are all men.  This male thing was getting a little overwhelming in Ireland — seems the only woman around is the Molly Malone statue, and she’s fictional.

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So I asked the attendant why there were no women anywhere.

img_6461“There is one,” he said, and pointed to Mary Pollard’s name.
“But where is her bust?” I asked, gesturing to all the marble heads in the room.
“It took us 200 years to get that,” he said, pointing the name.  “The other is coming.”

I had to look her up.  Seems she was the former Keeper of the Books at Trinity College.  The Trinity College Website notes that  “The Pollard Collection – a bequest of Mary “Paul” Pollard, former Keeper of Early Printed Books – is the largest collection of children’s books in Ireland. Items date from the 17th century to the early 20th century with a special focus on Irish imprints, Irish writers, and books written for girls.”

We are shunted down in the (what else?) gift shop, but that’s a crush, too.  After trying to work our way around the merchandise, maybe the crowds have cleared out, we say, and we loop back around again to the beginning and things are much better.  We are able to read all the placards, and actually see the Book of Kells page.  The old library upstairs was largely cleared out, so we had more of a chance to see it, too.

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I asked the attendant how the people moved between the stack upstairs.  He pointed out the door in each bookcase, close to the wall, where it was hard to see.  And, he said, those doors are eight feet tall, even though from down here they look small.

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Of course, I had Dave pose by the The Berkeley Library, named for that Irish philosopher, considering that Berkeley in California was his alma mater ( and that city was also named after this Berkeley).

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Henry Moore: “Reclining Connected Forms”

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Back out into town and walking around that day, we saw more hats on sculptures: the Four Angels Fountain received head pieces too.  After I looked at a complete listing of Dublin’s public art, it looks like there are more women statues than previously thought.img_6500

Molly Malone received a hat with fringe and a lace veil flowing down the back.

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Lunch was at Sprouts, with dessert by Laduree, picked up minutes before and smuggled downstairs to enjoy with our bowl of food.img_6505

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It was after our lunch at Sprouts, serving healthy-ish food, that we began to notice other one-word, one-syllable shops: Rocks, Fields, Cloth, Chopped, Card, Boots, Toast.

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But this was our favorite: FADE, a store for tattoo removal.

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We thought we’d like to see the Castle, but ended up at the Chester Beatty Library instead (on the grounds of the Castle).  Dave was fascinated by all that was there. Me?  Not so much, so I retired to the leather bench outside the exhibit, logged into their free wifi and did incredibly shallow stuff like posting on Instagram.  I plead jetlag.

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I did like the cards in the gift shop, though.

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We walked back through town, heading to dinner at The Pig’s Ear, a recommended restaurant (we’d made reservations earlier, before leaving home.

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The dining room, on the second floor, faced Trinity College, but from our perch in the corner of the room, we could only see bits of the greenery.  The whole experience was lovely, beginning with the sense of forest or woods or earthiness in the decor of woods and soft greens (except for the women’s bathroom, which was a perfect shade of pink–pig pink?)

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(Definitely going to think about repainting our bathroom when I get home.)

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We sat by an unused set of stairs, decorated with pigs and a gun-toting rabbit.

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I snapped a photo of the menu outside, before heading up. We each did a two-person menu, splitting the Starter and the Dessert.  Of course, we were upsold with the side of vegetables.DinnerPigsEar_2a.jpg

First, the bread was brought out in a leather basket, the wooden disk holding a round of slightly salty butter, with a wooden blade.

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The Starter of the salmon was a work of art.

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We loved everything, but the dessert was the perfect finisher:

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We headed for one more walk along the Ha’Penny Bridge, passing by this building.

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The gulls here have cries that will wake tired tourists; click here for video.

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We lingered long enough for the lights to come on.

HaPenny Bridge_3.jpgWhy go home? We can’t sleep.  In fact, I’ll close this post with a photo of the ceiling taken in the middle of the night, by my unsleeping husband.

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It was a struggle, every night: too hot, too noisy, terrible pillows.  So we start chipping away at the conditions.  We received decent pillows on day 3 of our stay.  We started closing the windows (yes, they are double-paned — they obviously were aware of the noise problem) and turning on the fan, inevitably sweltering hot by about 3 a.m.

Maybe we’ll sleep in Berlin, we say.  Who knows?AsktheRiver.jpg

We’ll ask the river (sign courtesy of the Fringe Festival).